As any fan of the series will tell you, the launch of a new Gran Turismo is a momentous occasion. Polyphony Digital’s Gran Turismo 7 is perhaps its biggest release yet and will launch on March 4th for PS4 and PS5. How does it stack up to Gran Turismo 6 and Gran Turismo Sport in terms of features? What are some of the key differences to be aware of? Let’s take a look at 11 of them here.
With Gran Turismo, as with many racing franchises, the launch line-up of cars is just the beginning. Gran Turismo 6 released with about 1197 cars – subsequent updates would bring that total to over 1240 cars from manufacturers like Alpine, Audi, BMW, Ferrari, Lamborghini and so on. Gran Turismo Sport would launch with 168 cars, about a fraction of its predecessor, but numerous updates over the years brought that to a staggering 338 cars. It also marked the first time in the series that Porsche cars would be available to drive. This carries over into Gran Turismo 7 which promises over 400 cars at launch.
Each Gran Turismo title launches with a selection of tracks across several locations worldwide. Some are based on real-world circuits while others are completely original and much like the number of cars, additional tracks are added through updates. Gran Turismo 6 offers 41 tracks with a total of 86 layouts. Some tracks have alternate versions like Nürburgring’s Nordschleife and 24 hour versions or the International and National versions of Silverstone Circuit.
Gran Turismo Sport features some 32 locations with 82 different tracks to race on including the famous Goodwood Motor Circuit, Red Bull Ring, Brands Hatch GP and Willow Springs. Gran Turismo 7’s full list of tracks has yet to be revealed but Polyphony Digital has promised more than 90 tracks including Tokyo Expressway, Fuji International Speedway, Daytona International Speedway, Goodwood Motor Circuit and of course, Nürburgring along with Nürburgring 24h.
Dynamic Weather and Time of Day
When Gran Turismo Sport first launched, it was missing some features that helped Gran Turismo 6 to stand out. One of these was dynamic weather and time of day. You could no longer see the weather vary during races or experience day/night cycles – these could be selected prior to a race though. In comparison, Gran Turismo 6 not only offered both but also provided accurate positions for stars in the sky, adding that much more to the immersion.
Gran Turismo 7 also features dynamic weather and time of day but on a larger scale with the developer going as far as using meteorological data and conditions specific to each region to accurately simulate cloud formation. As you’d expect, everything from the puddles that evaporate over time to the track’s surface temperature all have an effect on the physics. Producer Kazunori Yamauchi also confirmed in an interview with GTPlanet from September 2021 that time progression could be adjusted for races, meaning that the day could transition that much quicker to night and vice versa.
Interestingly enough, however, dynamic environmental features won’t apply to all tracks in Gran Turismo 7. Nurburgring Nordschleife, Tsukuba Circuit and Circuit de la Sarthe are all confirmed to support it at present.
While the Gran Turismo series has been known for a variety of different modes, it’s Arcade Mode that allows for simply jumping in and racing. Gran Turismo 6’s Arcade Mode was fairly bare-bones at launch, offering three types of races – Single Race, Time Trial and Drift Trial along with two-player split-screen support for multiplayer. Gran Turismo Sport expanded on this slightly more with Single Race, Time Trial, Drift Trial and Custom Race along with the VR Tour and two-player split-screen multiplayer. Interestingly enough, Gran Turismo 7’s Arcade Mode hasn’t been completely outlined. Single Race and split-screen multiplayer for two players have been confirmed but more details are still awaited.
Of course, it’s all about the campaign in Gran Turismo and each game has offered its own take on the same. Gran Turismo 6’s Career Mode saw players partaking in races across numerous Classes, starting from Novice Class and progressing through different Cups and Championships, completing license tests and other events to progress. There’s also the Red Bull Challenge, which offers driving lessons for formula cars and provides gift cars, and the Ayrton Senna trials added via DLC.
Gran Turismo Sport divided its campaign into several key modes, starting with Driving School which provided a series of challenges with bronze, silver and gold levels assigned based on completion time. This was meant to teach the core concepts of the game, which Mission Challenge expanded on further by offering eight stages with eight challenges each. Circuit Experience involved learning each aspect of a track before fully racing on it but a proper series of Cups would come slightly later with GT League. It offered four different Leagues, each with their own unique events and Cups; leveling up would unlock subsequent leagues. There’s also the Lewis Hamilton Time Trial Challenge that was added via paid DLC.
At the very least, Gran Turismo 7 is going back to basics with GT Simulation Mode being available from launch. It’s fairly straightforward – you purchase cars, participate in races and Cups, and earn credits to unlock new cars. Cars can be tuned to improve their performance along the way. Intertwined with this is GT Cafe, a new mode which doles out Car Collection Menus that are completed through race victories and championship wins. As you fill up the Menus, you’ll learn more about the history of different brands and even speak to the creative minds behind them.
B-Spec Mode has always been an interesting take on race driver management in Gran Turismo, allowing players to raise an AI driver and have them partake in races. You could hire multiple drivers and raise their skills using B-Spec Points earned from different events. Upon reintroducing the same in Gran Turismo 6, Polyphony made several changes. Raising drivers was gone and instead, you could select different paces for the driver (with a quicker pace resulting in more speed but also risk more mistakes). You could also directly interfere with an AI driver’s racing. B-Spec Mode was absent throughout the entirety of Gran Turismo Sport’s lifespan and while Gran Turismo 7 won’t launch with it, there is some hope of its return.
Sophy, an advanced racing AI developed specifically for Gran Turismo, will be added to Gran Turismo 7 in the future. Yamauchi told GT Planet that Sophy could be a teacher for players, act as a student or even serve as a racing companion. However, he “wouldn’t rule out the possibility of a B-Spec mode, where the player is the race director and Sophy is the driver.” This could result in the most realistic version of B-Spec yet, if it ever happens. Never say never.
GT Sport Mode
One of the biggest additions that Gran Turismo Sport brought to the franchise was Sport Mode which presented a more serious competitive racing structure. It essentially offered three daily races, which reset each week, and players were matched on the basis of their Driver Rating and Sportsmanship Rating. The former is more about skill while the latter focuses on racing etiquette (like not smashing into other races or ignoring racing flags). Ratings could range from E (the lowest) to S (the highest) – the S Driver Rating category consisted of the top 200 racers in the world.
Gran Turismo Sport will see the return of Sport Mode though aside from offering “serious racing with players all over the world,” its changes have yet to be detailed.
Offline play has been a point of discussion for years, especially given the amount of content that requires an internet connection. Gran Turismo 6 offered a fairly significant amount of offline content but when servers went offline, features like the Seasonal Events, Community and the Track Path Editor became unavailable. With Gran Turismo Sport, pretty much everything save for Arcade Mode requires being online. Gran Turismo 7 is the same – only Arcade Mode is playable offline – in order to prevent any kind of cheating. While there’s been no danger of Gran Turismo Sport servers going offline, it’s still something to keep in mind for its future (along with that of Gran Turismo 7).
Replays in Gran Turismo 6 are fairly straightforward – you can rewatch a completed race, choose different views or switch between Full View and Live Timing, and change the camera target. There are also options for pausing, rewinding and fast forwarding. You could also select between regular and Best Lap Replays with the latter only showcasing the fastest lap in a race.
Gran Turismo Sport added onto this with options like rewinding and fast-forwarding 10 seconds at a time, frame by frame advancement and so on. You could also set the Camera Type to Standard for more dynamic movement or Variable for easier viewing and capture Race Photos for key moments.
Replays return in Gran Turismo 7 and feature a new twist – Music Replay, which generates a replay camera based on the background music used. This means that camera positions and cuts are generated dynamically, thus providing a unique viewing experience each time. On top of this, replays also support ray tracing, resulting in even higher fidelity.
Photo Travel and Scapes
If photographing your cars in various real-world locations is the name of the game, then Photo Travel was for you in Gran Turismo. It essentially allowed for taking pictures of vehicles in real-world locations. Gran Turismo 6 was unfortunately limited on this front, only offering a whopping five locations to photograph one’s vehicle.
Gran Turismo Sport overhauled this with the introduction of Scapes. Instead of in-game versions of real-world locations, it offered real-life photos of the same to serve as backgrounds. Odd as it sounded at the time, it offered way more depth and variety to photograph one’s vehicle in (and supported 4K resolution, HDR and Wide Color). GT Sport would eventually have 1,017 locations in Scapes with many added over time in updates.
Scapes in Gran Turismo 7 look to up the ante even further with more than 2,500 different locations to take pictures in. And yes, along with HDR support, ray tracing is also available here along with various effects. It’s also much easier to showcase your work to the world and favorite different pictures from other players.